Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Quick Primer on NATO and the European Union (for Trumpeters)

President Elect Trump has not seemed to change his opinion on many things - which isn't a big deal. I didn't expect he would.  But I did hope that he would learn to be more circumspect in interviews when his words freak out our allies.  His latest comments to newspapers in our biggest allies are an example of his intellectual non-interest made ugly.

Quoting here:
Mr. Trump’s latest salvo against stalwart American allies came in a joint interview over the weekend with The Times of London and Bild, a German newspaper. His published remarks have angered and shaken America’s closest allies in Europe.
Mr. Trump said NATO was obsolete because it had failed to resist terrorism, and he repeated earlier charges that some of its members were not paying their fair share. He described the European Union as “basically a vehicle for Germany” and predicted that other European nations would probably follow Britain’s lead by leaving it.

There are two items to unpack, that are fairly critical to understand and to peace in the world.

NATO was NOT created to fight terrorism. NATO was created to guarantee peace in Europe, particularly between the two biggest rivals, the US lead Western Block and the Soviet lead Eastern Block.

NATO has accomplished that goal completely. Remember that the USSR had attacked and crushed rebellions in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia in the mid-twentieth century. They also threatened to do so in Greece and supported communist terrorist groups in West Germany and Italy. With NATO, the US laid down a marker that we would support these countries in event of attack and they would support us.

Oddly enough, the ONLY time this was invoked was when the US was attacked on 9/11 and then attacked Afghanistan - well outside of NATO's core interest area. NATO countries backed our war there.

NATO is the only real thing deterring Russia from attacking the Baltic Countries, which Russia has a history of attacking and absorbing (1700s, 1800s and 1939)

NATO countries are presently sharing a lot of information on the fight against terrorism. AND they are also sharing this with Russia and other countries to fight terrorism together.

As for the European Union comment. Oy - what a dope.

The United States has long supported the European Union as a vehicle for European integration and therefore promoting peace on the continent. If you remember (which Mr. Trump apparently does not), the United States fought two World Wars in Europe -started by the continental powers fighting for land, power, riches and control of trade. The EU's purpose is to integrate the economies of the continent so as to give a forum to resolve these issues without war.

Mr. Trump's problem IT SEEMS TO ME* that he cannot see a negotiation as a win / win possibility. In his experience every negotiation and every transaction has winners and losers.  For example, stating that the EU is a vehicle for Germany is asinine. The standards of living in EVERY OTHER EU country, bar France and Sweden has grown dramatically faster upon joining the EU that without it. And normally faster than the Germany - although Germany already had a good standard of living.

Consider the new ex-Russian countries that border the EU that did not join it, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldavia. They started with exactly the same standard of living as Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The benefits of the EU are immediately apparent in the standard of living between them. Yes, Germany is richer because of the EU. But Finland, Estonia, Slovenia, Portugal etc. are vastly richer as well.  A win/win situation.

* That is my opinion, I could be wrong, he might be playing a long game here. But I don't believe it, given that for the European Union he is offering an opinion in a situation we are not part of.